Ideas vs. Facts

Yesterday I posted Essential Articles from Salvo on Communism and the State. One of those articles is an interview with Fr. Roman Braga who was imprisoned by the communists in Romania for 5 years. I recommend it to you (Solitary Refinement: How One Man Found Freedom Inside a Communist Prison, An interview with Fr. Roman Braga by James M. Kushiner), but I would also like to point you to this interview with another Romanian who grew up under the communist regime. From The College FixProfessor raised under communism explains academics’ love of socialism – and why they’re wrong. An excerpt:

COLLEGE FIX: Socialism appears to be a popularly embraced ideology in American academia. Why do you think this is? What is so tempting about this mindset?

FLORIN CURTA: I think that there’s an idealism that most people in academia, specifically in the humanities, share. We live in an era of ideological morass, especially with the collapse of communism that has left no room for those idealists in the academic world. No matter how you can prove that system doesn’t work, with an inclination to go that way perhaps because most people associate socialism with social justice, while the former is an ideology with concrete ideas and concrete historical experiences, while social justice is a very vague abstract notion.

You have to understand, the difference between ideas and facts is what is of major concern here. As my father used to say, it is so much easier to be a Marxist when you sip your coffee in Rive Gauche, left-bank Paris, than when living in an apartment under Ceaușescu, especially in the 1980s.

Essential Articles from Salvo on Communism and the State


State Purposes
Utopian Creep & the Struggle for Human Rights & Freedom
by Terrell Clemmons

. . . Consider that this Ameritopia’s Leviathan-sized federal government has become the nation’s largest creditor, debtor, lender, contractor, grantor, insurer, health-care provider, regulator, and pension guarantor, to name only a few of the many extra-constitutional roles Uncle Sam has assumed. Worse, an alarming segment of the population has foregone self-reliance and individual industry in favor of dependence on the rest. In such an environment, those traits which represent the best in the nature of man—initiative, drive, and selflessness—inevitably languish and falter, while, as Shin Dong-hyuk warns, those which represent the worst—indolence, envy, and predation—thrive. . . .

Statism’s Deadbeat Dad
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
by Terrell Clemmons

. . . The expressions of Rousseau’s ideas took different forms in the different nations to which they spread, but one thing they had in common was the elevation of the state to the role of supreme liberator of the people and ultimate authority and caretaker over them. Whereas the original American understanding of liberty valued and recognized inherent human rights that the state may not transgress, Rousseau’s view of liberty was the diametrical opposite. As Nancy Pearcey explains in How Now Shall We Live?, to Rousseau, “freedom meant liberation from the forms and institutions of society—family, church, class, and local community.” And the state would and should be the liberator. “Each citizen would then be completely independent of all his fellow men,” she quotes Rousseau, “and absolutely dependent on the state.” . . .

Solitary Refinement
How One Man Found Freedom Inside a Communist Prison
An interview with Fr. Roman Braga by James M. Kushiner

. . . I suffered eleven years in Communist prisons. They put me in prison because I was a teacher; I was teaching religion and the Romanian language in high school. When the Communist government came into power, they immediately said everyone in the schools would have to interpret everything in the Marxist, materialistic way. But I didn’t want to lie to my students. It was not only me; many thousands of other Christians and intellectuals in Romania did the same.

We wanted to educate young people to be themselves the way that God created them, to know who they were. Personality is something given by God. Each one is unique. God never creates standard types, like bars of soap coming down the conveyer belt in the factory. It may seem that I exaggerate, because I came out of Communism, where the individuals were just numbers, like bricks in a building, all the same, and they don’t have any other function. . . .

Truth vs. State
It Takes Courage to Confront False Ideologies
by H. Lynn Gardner

. . . Among the false ideologies of the West are secularism, feminism, and sexual libertinism. Speaking against them will not advance your career in government or education. But the witness of two men who lived under the lies of communism should inspire us to speak out. They had the courage and integrity to live and speak the truth about their societies despite the risk of prison, torture, and even death—Vaclav Havel (1936–2011) & Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918–2008). . . .

Che Guevara
The Making of a Marxist Martyr
by Terrell Clemmons

. . . Although Che had left Cuba under a cloud two years earlier, Castro responded to the news of Che’s death by declaring a three-day period of national mourning. “If you wish to express what we want our children to be,” he told a crowd in Havana’s Revolution Square, “we must say from our hearts as ardent revolutionaries, ‘We want them to be like Che!'” From then on, Cuban schoolchildren began their day saying, “Pioneers of Communism, we will be like Che!” It makes perfect sense that Castro would want everyone to be like Che, for Che served Castro to his dying breath. It also makes sense that Cuban schoolchildren would be forced to pay tribute to this would-be role model. They have no choice. What doesn’t make sense is why anyone in the free world would follow suit. . . .

The above articles appeared in the pages of Salvo. You should subscribe. SPECIAL OFFER! Subscribe to Salvo for only $19.99 and receive the Salvo Science & Faith issue FREE

More on the Common Core


From Michael Avramovich, who regularly blogs at Mere Comments and sometimes blogs for Salvo. It’s from a while back, but it’s still good information on what is going on with the education system…

Once Seized, Fits All
The Hegemony of the Common Core Educational Standards

Albert Einstein once observed, “It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.” As more people learn about the Common Core educational standards being introduced into American schools, they are likely to echo his sentiment.

What are these standards, and why do they pose such a dire outlook for our children’s education?

read the rest…

Regular Salvo writer Robin Phillips has written much on this topic. School Deform How Common Core Promotes Cultural Engineering by Killing the Imagination.

We also came up with a good fake ad to go along with it.


Feeding Time

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From the issue: The (Not So) Great Divide Why the Tensions Between Science & Faith Are Misunderstood & Overblown by William A. Dembski & Denyse O’Leary

. . . some science historians—Templeton prize winner Stanley Jaki (1924–2009), for one—have stressed the ways in which the Bible’s worldview encourages science. Many religions, past and present, do not. These teach that the whole world is God, or that God is a being (or beings) within the world, or that the world is just an illusion that we ought to see through. The Bible, by contrast, makes it clear that God created a real world that is separate from himself. Creation is a divine invention that follows fixed laws, not a divine being—a work of art, if you like, not a person. Therefore, scientists can, as Kepler put it, worship God by studying the creation (“reading God’s thoughts after him”). . . .


Wilberforce for Good

Wilberforce seeks John Newton's advice, from the movie "Amazing Grace" (also highly recommended).

Wilberforce seeks John Newton’s advice, from the movie “Amazing Grace” (also highly recommended).

Salvo‘s own Regis Nicoll has written a very good piece for Touchstone magazine. It’s about how there are no shortcuts on the long road to cultural renewal and he uses the story of William Wilberforce’s England (early 1800s) as an illustration. I’ve pulled out the part about Wilberforce and placed it below, but I recommend the complete article to you as well.

Wilberforce for Good
Regis Nicoll on Marriage, Moral Corruption & the Christian Duty of Witness

. . .

    In the eighteenth century, Great Britain was the great world power, as is the United States today. But it was also a country marred by rampant alcoholism, prostitution, political corruption, and the social injustices of hazardous factories, sixteen-hour workdays, and child labor. Crime, vice, and corruption were so bad in London that the city earned the epithet, “the devil’s drawing room.” On top of that, Britain was the world leader in the slave trade, a moral failing that Wilberforce sought to correct.

As a young parliamentarian, Wilberforce realized that while politicians and their policies bore responsibility for the execrable conditions of the day, they were not the cause of those conditions. The cause was the moral decline of society, which was owed, in large part, to the failure of the Church.

At the time, the Church of England was in full retreat from historical Christianity. Pew and pulpit were marked by nominal-to-heterodox beliefs. Lay non-attendance was widespread, as was clerical neglect of congregational care.

Particularly telling is what a pastor of the day, Joseph Milner, had to say about church leadership: “It is an affecting consideration to reflect what a number of clergymen there are whose lives demonstrate them to be wholly devoid of any religious sensibility whatever . . . [and without] any concern for their own salvation or that of the flocks committed to their charge.”

Wilberforce knew that without a “reformation of manners,” or what we might call the restoration of moral norms, ending slavery would be a lost cause. So he and a group of likeminded Christians pursued a dual track: they pushed for abolition while also establishing dozens of volunteer organizations devoted to raising the moral pitch of the culture.

Although it took nearly fifty years, Wilberforce witnessed the end of the British slave trade and the beginning of the Victorian era—a period marked by an uncommon commitment to personal moral formation.

Our current situation holds some remarkable parallels. Yet, to the modern mind, a 50-year struggle is unthinkable. Raised in the media era, where the thorniest problems are solved in a 30-minute program if not a 30-second commercial, we’ve come to expect quick fixes for everything from bad breath to the War on Terror. Any problem older than last week’s news strains our patience. We are a people who trust that there is no challenge a little technology and political will can’t solve.

And yet, we didn’t get here overnight, or over the last six years. The condition of our national soul took decades to degenerate, and it will take decades to restore it—not one, two, or three election cycles, or until the “right” people dominate all three branches of government. Decades.

. . .